With all that is happening right now there is one underlying issue, experiencing different things to open your eyes. What has been fundamental to the protests and Black Lives Matter movement has been listening and trying to comprehend what their experience has been. Despite the ability to be more connected to the rest of the nation and world it seems so many have retreated to what is comfortable.
America is the great experiment as the melting pot of the world but right now it is quite clear how divided we really are. There are serious issues being brought to the forefront with complex solutions, but I think there is one really simple thing that would get us much closer, experiencing. Being uncomfortable is where you grow and find yourself, but it also gives you new perspective that makes you more well rounded. Most importantly, being uncomfortable and facing that challenge makes you more likely to be open to experiencing more.
For me one of the biggest areas of new experiences is travel because it’s some place new, new food, new people, new culture, and most of all there’s the shock value of navigating around somewhere you have no idea where anything is. I love to travel and see new places and it has been amazing to have my eyes open to what each place brings. Two stats that I’ve always held close are the average person visits less than nine states and most people will end up settling down withing sixty miles of their home town. No knock for loving the place you grew up in but there’s so much out there you could absolutely love.
Traveling internationally has for sure been one of the biggest eye openers for me. While I encourage travel of any sort, staying in the country will provide you with at least some comfort of still being home. Being out of the country is an experience you can’t describe as you have no idea where anything is and often have to rely on strangers to find you way. Most importantly, it was really eye opening to be the foreigner and see Americans through a different lens. It made me think a lot about how to be polite, how to communicate and also what people I think I could travel with and how awkward it’d be to visit foreign lands with them.
One of my fundamental pillars of belief is everyone should move at least once. Everyone needs to have to adapt, learn a new place and make it their new home. Normally people get that opportunity when they go away from college, which makes a lot of sense because there’s a society in place to provide some comfort. I didn’t leave town for college, I chose to stay close to family and friends and it’s a decision I mildly regret. I believe that’s a big reason why I love to travel so much because I restricted a big option when I could take it.
Traveling is not the end all be all for experience because of course you can stay in you comfort zone as you experience different things. With the internet and access to information there’s no excuse not to expand your thoughts. With all that has been happening I realized I was not doing a good job taking in all opinions so I sought out differing opinions from a legitimate source. Confrontation is seen as bad but the truth is so many more people need to toughen up to not be so opposed to hearing something different. Don’t confuse accepting of everything because there is clearly false opinions out there that is doing nothing than furthering false narratives.
As a Liberal Arts major in college I took a women studies class and one of the things that was a big advancement in feminism was the generation of kids growing up with single moms. That made a new generation more aware and sympathetic to women’s issues. That same thing is what millennials have experienced as well when it comes to minorities and especially the LGBTQ community. So many more of us have grown up around all these different people and it’s just normal.
There’s such a cliché of “I’ve got one black friend.” as an excuse to deny any possibility of racism and it has become such a joke. I’m not very good at making new friends but I try very hard not to be closed off to meeting new people. I wouldn’t clarify you have to make friends of all different types of people as you’ll bond with who you bond with, but don’t be closed off to meeting those people, to having conversations to them because the truth is we are much more alike then we think. We are Americans and we need to be open to what others have experienced and expand our own horizons.